Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Meme du jour…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:48 am

Bruce tagged me with this one.

The ChildHood Meme: What 5 Things Do You Miss About Your Childhood?

This meme requires you to do the following things:

Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place. Add your blog’s name in the #5 spot. Link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Cincysundevil
2. Lindsay
3. News to Hughes
4. Fluxion
5. Our Obligatory Blog

When your blog reaches the top of the list, you will receive 3,125 different childhoods to choose from. Note, do not break the chain. Myron Bichelmeyer of Culver City, California broke the chain and had to relive his own pathetic childhood.

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. This is the part I hate, but I’ll try to pick all the curmudgeons I know:

  1. Chuck
  2. Ray
  3. Len
  4. Karl Elvis
  5. Grace

Now list the five things you miss about childhood most. Ordinarily, I say that I’m glad to not be a child any more, but upon reflection, there are a few things I look back on fondly. Here they are:

  1. Summer vacation – No school. I could just hang around and do whatever I wanted. I did a lot of exploring.
  2. Climbing trees – I climbed almost every tree in every yard of every house I lived in.
  3. The Hall of Dinosaurs – The American Museum of Natural History in New York had the best dinosaur exhibit, and I went there a lot as a child.
  4. Sledding on the big hill by my house after an ice storm – Now that I’m grown, I hate cold, snow, and ice, but then it was fun. The sleds got going something like 35 miles per hour on the hill. Being young, this was exciting and not scary.
  5. Rockets to the moon were real – I grew up watching the Gemini and Apollo missions on TV. I thought that space exploration was just Something We Did. It was only later that I realized that it was all just a big dick contest with the Russians.


Venus and Mercury

Filed under: — stan @ 9:01 pm

Tonight I went outside and had a look at Venus and Mercury. They are very close together, and I figured that they would probably fit within one eyepiece field on my telescope. So I got out the telescope and set it up in the front yard. I was able to see both planets at the same time, so I thought I’d try some more duct tape astrophotography. I taped the camera directly to the eyepiece and set it on no-flash mode. Then I set it on a ten-second delay and just shot a few pictures to see what would happen. And here it is.

Another Sunday bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 7:52 pm

Today’s ride was Gene’s ‘Old Town Monrovia’ ride. This was a mostly-flat jaunt out to Irwindale and Azusa, and then back to Monrovia for a snack at the Coffee Bean.

The first thing everyone noticed today was that Sandy and Rasheed were twins. They had the same jerseys, although we were still able to tell them apart. Also in the well-dressed category was Jason, who had his bright red ‘CCCP‘ jersey, complete with hammer and sickle.

We started out going east through Arcadia, Monrovia and Duarte. Then we got on the bike path above Santa Fe Dam and rode that all the way down over the dam and down the San Gabriel River.

We got off the bike path at Lower Azusa Road, which we took west for a bit to Peck. Then we turned north, passing Dandy Doors and the Taboo Gentleman’s Club. The funny thing about that place is that apparently the city of Arcadia made some rule prohibiting them from having a big sign out in front. So they got a truck billboard and just keep it parked in the parking lot in front of the building.

A bit farther north, we passed back into Monrovia, passing the now-derelict train station there. We also passed the Wizard of Bras, which may well count the Taboo dancers among their clients.

Then we got to Old Town Monrovia. We stopped at the Coffee Bean at Myrtle and Foothill and had a snack.

Leaving the Coffee Bean, we headed west on Foothill Blvd. We passed the Aztec Hotel, which is a rather distinctive building. Then we took Highland Oaks up the hill to Grand View in Sierra Madre. After that, we came back down the hill and we were back at the park.

At this point, we had only gone about 35 miles, so Jason, Matt and I decided to do a bit more. We headed west across Pasadena, crossing through Old Town (we have an ‘Old Town’ everywere here) and then down into the Arroyo. We went around the Rose Bowl, where we saw the ‘you are in a golf area’ warning signs. Sadly, the sign was just text, and didn’t have a graphic of a little stick-figure man being beaned by a golf ball. At the end of the golf course, we took a left and went up the hill to Linda Vista. Then we went north a bit to just below the dam. From there, we took Windsor Road up to Casitas, and then took Mendocino back across Pasadena.

50 miles.


Another tattoo show

Filed under: — stan @ 11:58 pm

queen mary photo album
I went to the Queen Mary Tattoo Convention today. Overall, it was a pretty fun time, even if there were some annoying aspects about it. The sources of annoyance were tripartite:

  • They stopped selling the online advance tickets when the doors opened. And they only took cash at the door.
  • The parking was full, and they didn’t have clear signs of where we should go.
  • They charged us $12 for parking, even when it was two miles away.

So by the time I actually got in the door, I was kind of annoyed. But all that dissipated once I got inside. I got to see several of my tattoo convention friends there. They had three levels of booths set up, along with a stage on the bottom level. The marching band was pretty funny. My friend won a raffle or something for a gift certificate for a tattoo at one of the booths, so I got to watch her get tattooed. She also got a bunch of free stuff handed out from the stage. They were giving out Jägermeister hats and shirts, and she decided that she was going to get one. So she flashed the MC. This brought a cheer from the crowd, and got her both a shirt and a hat. Then they announced that they had some other shirts that they would give to any girl willing to change into them onstage. So she got up on the stage. This delighted the crowd even more. Of course, I got pictures.

It was a fun time.

So here are my pictures from the day. Note that they are not entirely work-safe, thanks to my very dear and at the time somewhat inebriated friend.

Construction update

Filed under: — stan @ 11:45 am

I have finished two of the railings now. The monkey bars should be here Tuesday. It will be time for another trip to Home Depot for some more wood. Then I will do the concrete footings for the ladder and assemble the monkey bars.


I donated my brain to science…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:31 am

Found this on Len’s blog. I’m always in favor of contributing to the Advance of Science.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey


I’m getting around a lot these days…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:05 am

It’s kind of novel. This time, it’s in the Palm Springs Desert Sun:

Once again, they spelled my name correctly. I asked the reporter and he confirmed that the newspaper did indeed have ‘Schwarzenegger’ added to their spell checkers, which of course made spelling my name a snap.


Google works in mysterious ways, aka this is funny

Filed under: — stan @ 12:54 pm

Every so often I poke around in the logs for my web site and see what people are looking at and where they came from. Today I noticed something funny. My statistics for this month said that the number three search string was ‘Ramones’, and looking at the logs showed that I was coming up in an image search. I went to see the Ramones live once, back in 1980, but I certainly don’t have any pictures of that. I’ve also been to see the Ramones dead a couple of times. My picture comes up on the second page of the search results. It’s from the day I rode over to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with the bike club and we visited Dee Dee Ramone’s grave and also the memorial to Johnny Ramone.

But the picture that comes up in the image search is of a squished crayfish. Why that picture? There are ten pictures with that blog entry. None of them have any alt text. How did the Infinite Wisdom of Google select that picture over the others?

Try the search

I’ve read that Google is God. Maybe there are some things Man was not meant to know.


Atomic Tourist, aka Fun with Google Maps

Filed under: — stan @ 5:01 pm

Google maps is great. Check this out:,-116.046867&spn=0.006287,0.007832&t=k&hl=en

It’s the crater from the 1962 ‘Sedan’ test at the Nevada Test Site. It was an experiment in ‘nuclear excavation’, aka digging big holes with atom bombs. This was all part of Project Plowshare, when they actually were considering using ‘nuclear excavation’ to cut a pass through the Bristol Mountains east of Barstow for soon-to-be-built Interstate 40. Fortunately, this was ultimately deemed a Bad Idea and was also precluded by the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

Scrolling south a bit, and zooming out, here is something else:,-115.936747&spn=0.053129,0.062656&t=k&hl=en

This is Frenchman Lake, which was the site of the 1957 Priscilla test. This was the test where they built bridges and buildings out on the dry lake bed to observe the effects of the blast on the structures. Sadly, Google doesn’t have the higher resolution satellite picture for this region, so we can’t see them in the lake bed.

If you zoom out a bit, you see this:,-116.059055&spn=0.100594,0.125313&t=k&hl=en

Every one of those divots in the earth is a subsidence crater left from an underground nuclear test. The Sedan crater is at the top of the image. If you grab the map with your mouse and scoot it around, you can find other valleys there that are also filled with nuclear divots.

Fifteen more seconds of fame…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 am

I got mentioned in a column in the Pasadena Star News on Sunday:

link to the story

“With California’s barrage of earthquakes, and even a tsunami warning last week, the Web site of the Pasadena office of the U.S. Geological Survey has been working overtime.

And it overloaded briefly Thursday.

Within minutes of the magnitude-4.9 earthquake that struck in the middle of the day near Yucaipa and shook all of Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of people were pointing and clicking on the USGS site.

The number of hits peaked at more than 4,000 per second five minutes after the quake, said Stan Schwarz, system administrator for the USGS Pasadena office.

The system became overloaded and went offline shortly thereafter, but was up and working again about 45 minutes after the quake.

The largest number of hits came from the “Did you feel it?’ map, which doesn’t exist on any other site, Schwarz said.

The USGS’s new tool, which color-codes the likelihood of aftershocks in the next 24 hours, only registered about 6,000 of the 250,000 hits during the peak.

Schwarz said the site gets about six months’ worth of average traffic during the hour immediately following any earthquake that people in Los Angeles can feel.

And, he said, the peak time has gone down, probably as a result of more broadband Internet connections. “It used to be five or six years ago, the peak traffic on our Web site was 10 minutes after the earthquake,’ he said. “You could practically set your watch on it.’”

Ever since the Hector Mine Earthquake in 1999, I’ve made a little side project out of studying the traffic surges our web servers get after earthquakes. As a sysadmin, it’s largely a matter of self-preservation, since I hate it when they go down.

Note also that the reporter spelled my name correctly. This is unusual, but when she asked how it was spelled, I told her, “it’s easy – it’s spelled just like ‘Schwarzenegger’, but without the ‘enegger’”. She just laughed, but I figured that anyone in the newspaper business in California knows how to spell ‘Schwarzenegger’ now.

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